Israeli Soccer Team Forced to Move Game Over Security Threats

Maccabi Haifa Israeli soccer game moved
A training session of Israel's soccer club Maccabi Haifa in the Austrian village of Leogang Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters

VIENNA (Reuters) - A soccer match to be played on Saturday by Maccabi Haifa and Paderborn will be moved due to security concerns after a violent anti-Israel protest disrupted the Israeli team's last game in Austria.

"The match will take place at 1700 (1500 GMT) tomorrow but not in Kirchbichl," Hannes Empl, head of the SLFC organization that organizes soccer training camps in the Salzburg region, told Reuters by telephone on Friday.

Protesters against Israel's military offensive in Gaza ran onto the pitch and attacked Maccabi Haifa players at a friendly game against Lille in the Austrian town of Bischofshofen on Wednesday, causing the match to be abandoned.

"Because of the events in Bischofshofen, there are security concerns," Otto Lichtmannegger, head of the mayor's office in Kirchbichl, told Reuters by telephone. "On top of that, our sports field is in the center of town."

Empl said a new location for Saturday's match would be announced later on Friday, after the Austrian Interior Ministry had given its approval.

The Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Gaza conflict has risen above 800, with most of the dead civilians. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is pressing regional proxies to secure a ceasefire.